Despite continued rumors that the Reebok brand would be leaving hockey, nothing like that has happened yet. Instead, Reebok continues to develop and release a steady stream of solid products including the Ribcor skates. Our friends at Reebok Hockey were kind enough to send us a pair of Ribcor skates to review, and we’ve used them for a couple months now. Below you’ll find our complete review of the Reebok Ribcor skates.
Design & Construction:
Reebok eliminated much of the white and grey that were found in the 20k when they designed this new model, and instead blacked out the entire boot. There are some hints of green, specifically the Reebok logo and the Ribcor logo, which do provide nice accents. The white laces and white felt tongue, along with the white holder, do provide enough to offset the black boot and prevent the skates from being overwhelmingly dark, however.
A nice touch to go along with the blacked out skates are the black SpeedBlade steel runners. As far as I know, this is the first pair of skates to come stock with black runners, and it was a great decision by Reebok. Sure you can buy them separately, but sometimes the cool little things like this push people towards buying one pair of skates over another.
The Reebok Ribcor skates feature a Ribcor Pro quarter package with an EPP foam core. These skates are designed to be more for the agile player, such as a Pavel Datsyuk, where as the RBZ and Tacks are meant for top end speed and quick acceleration, respectively. While you might think this means that you’re going to get a boot that isn’t stiff, that will not be the case. The Ribcor maintains a great level of stiffness, and is suitable for high level play.
Of course, the Ribcor wouldn’t be a pair of Reebok skates if they didn’t include the SkateLock system, as well as The Pump. The SkateLock system is a lace lock beneath the third eyelets. This system allows you to tighten your laces and lock them in with the snap so that you can tighten the top three eyelets independently of the bottom. So if you like to leave your lower portion loose and the top portion real tight, you are free to do so. The Pump, on the other hand, is a system which allows you to pump in air to eliminate negative space around your ankle and help keep your foot locked in place. Both are interesting features and exclusive to the Reebok line of skates.
Throughout the rest of the skate, top end materials have been used. Tacky Nash and clarino make up the dual zone liner, while a hybrid of felt and EPE foams are used in the tongue. A griptonite footbed focuses on keeping your foot locked place by using a grip texture, while the outsole is made of lightweight carbon fiber. Another upgrade over the 20k skate is the use of the new SpeedBlade 4.0 holder, which is a welcome change.
I had always heard of Reebok skates described as fitting a bit wider than CCM skates and that if you have a wide foot, Reebok is the way to go. I suppose I would have to agree with that assessment, but I was having a hard time distinguishing the fit of the RBZ from that of the Ribcor. These skates are definitely going to fit wider than, say, the Vapor line from Bauer. However, without baking or making any kind of adjustments, I was able to comfortably wear both the CCM RBZ skates and the Reebok Ribcor skates.
Unlike the RBZ line, however, the Ribcor skates sizing remains consistent with the last generation of skates. If you were a size 9 in the 20k skates, you will once again be a size 9 in the Ribcor. I’m glad to see no adjustments were made there, as this can easily lead to confusion and frustration on your end as you try to purchase a new pair of skates.
IceWarehouse describes these skates as having a low-medium volume, with a narrow heel pocket, while also being narrow across the top of the foot, forefoot, and toe box. It’s always safest though if you try on a pair of skates yourself and make sure they comfortably fit the shape of your foot.
Coming right from the RBZ skates, I was able to smoothly make the transition to the Ribcor. Since both skates utilize the same holder, there was really no adjustment that needed to be made on my part. I was able to jump right on the ice and really feel comfortable after only a few strides. However, if you’re coming from another brand of skates, it’s not a bad idea to wear these to practice in prior to using them in game situations.
One of the first things I noticed about the Ribcor when I put the skates on was the increase in weight over the RBZ skates. Coming in at 898 grams, I had added a combined 178 grams to my feet. While 178 grams is still nothing drastic or game changing, the additional weight was noticeable when I first got out on the ice.
As I mentioned earlier, the Reebok Ribcor skates were designed primarily to promote agility. They were created to give you more range of motion and maximize your mobility. While I think that is a tremendous goal, I’m not sure what features actually help to achieve that, except maybe the materials used in the quarter package. For example, the Supreme line of skates from Bauer features a flexible tendon guard for increased range of motion in each stride. On the Ribcor skates, however, you’re getting a pretty stiff tendon guard. Nothing really distinguishes this skate to me as being for the agile player. In fact, I felt just as agile in the RBZ skates I had previously worn.
Fortunately, the Ribcor skates were strong all around performers on the ice. I felt strong on my feet wearing them, whether I was making sharp cuts or sprinting in a straight line. These are the kind of skates that feel good on your feet and allow you to get out on to the ice and do work. If you’re grinding in the corners and battling for loose pucks, I think these skates can benefit you. At the same time, if you’re a dangler working on your new shootout deke, these skates are going to be good for you too.
In terms of forward flex and energy transfer, I think you’re going to get about what you expect out of these skates. The carbon composite outsole provides good energy transfer, but if you’re coming from another high end skate, you will not notice a difference. You will, however, if you’re making the jump from a lower end skate. In terms of flex, I’ve been pleased, but again it performs as expected. The boot is not too restrictive, and allows for good movement all around.
The biggest complaints I have regarding the Reebok Ribcor skates are two of Reebok’s classic features – the lace lock and pump. These are features which obviously have their fair share of fans, but they are not something I appreciated at all. I tried to use the pump during my first couple skates, but could not tell the difference between having the skates pumped or unpumped – they literally felt the same. After those skates, I just ignored the pump feature all together.
On the other hand, the lace lock system isn’t something you can really ignore – you have to deal with it. I mean technically I could have just removed it, or skipped that area, but I stuck with it for the entire time I used the skates. They honestly left me more more annoyed each time than anything else. Before I used it, I thought the lace lock would be a good feature to have, but after using it, I wish that Reebok would remove it from their skates.
Another area of improvement I would like to see is in the footbed. CCM had me with the custom footbed support in the RBZ skates, and even the Tacks are doing the same thing. Reebok needs to bring this to their line as well, and offer the same improved footbeds, with the addition of the Griptonite. I found that after each skate, my arches were sore from the lack of support versus my previous skates. That little change for Reebok I think would go a long way.
They’re not hitting you with the features and marketing gimmicks of some other skates, so it seems very easy for the Ribcor skates to sort of fly under the radar. However, this is a real solid pair of skates that I would definitely be interested in if I were a longtime Reebok user or looking to make the switch from another brand. They feel good on your feet, perform well in a large variety of situations out on the ice, and to top it all off, they cost less than other top end skates.
As one of the better looking skates on the market today, the Reebok Ribcor skates are a great skate in the bang for your buck variety. If you’re seeking top level performance, great looks, and a low price tag – look no further and try a pair of these on to see how they fit.
Drop us a note in the comments and let us know if this review was helpful to you, or share your own review if you have used these skates. You can also let us know if you have specific questions, and we will do our best to answer those for you.